Wantagh native Michael Berman kayaked for 20 years and was trained at the Philadelphia Canoe and Kayak Association, the oldest kayak club in America. Now Berman, an attorney who attended the Wharton School of Business and Penn Law School at the University of Pennsylvania, has started the first kayaking business in the city.
“I do not love being an attorney, I love kayaking,” said Berman, a graduate who now resides in Long Beach. “I am really trying to turn my love and passion into my business.”
For the past five years Berman has run the largest free kayaking group on Long Island. He did it through meetup.com, a site where people can match their interests with others and take part in various activities together. With more than 500 members, the “Long Island Kayaking Free Meetup Group” has trips all over Long Island.
But Berman ran into a dilemma. Only people who owned kayaks were able to participate. There were few places in the area to rent a kayak and he was determined to change that. Last winter Berman looked to acquire a fleet of kayaks in order to start a kayaking business in Long Beach. That is how Long Beach Kayak & Adventure (LBKA) was born.
Kayaks, both single and two-person, are available for rent by the hour, day and overnight. The heart of LBKA’s business is in its adventure tours. All of the kayaking tours start at the Long Beach Marina/Boat Ramp on the bay, behind the Recreation Center fields north of National Boulevard. Berman does not store his kayaks on city property, but instead pulls up in a truck with a trailer that holds several kayaks.
Tours are held twice daily, except on Tuesdays when LBKA is closed for private parties and charity functions. Mondays are Teacher Appreciation Day, when all schoolteachers receive a $15 discount. LBKA is fully insured by an A-rated New York State insurance company, and each trip has two instructors who are certified in Rescue CPR/AED.
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The most common trip is the Adventure Paddle to Paddy’s. This is a more than three-hour tour in which kayakers paddle a more scenic route along the Long Beach waterway into Island Park. After about an hour, the tour stops at a small beach where everyone can stretch their legs and use a bathroom. The paddle continues to Paddy McGee’s Fish House & Bar in Island Park, where there is reserved seating and a half-price menu for the group.
There are different tours available, including moonlight paddles, which are one-way and can be found on Long Beach Kayak & Adventure’s website. Two tours on the horizon will be a Hawaiian Luau Paddle and the Master and Dog Paddle. Berman also plans to work with the Allegria Hotel to start an ocean kayaking tour.
As a green-friendly company, LBKA was part of Green Fest at Long Beach City Hall and is working with the Green Project of Long Island and SPLASH to do a cleanup paddle of Long Beach’s waterways.
Berman said that unlike other water sports, kayaking is a family-friendly sport; people of all ages can participate and it really promotes bonding.
“Sometimes a father will thank me and say he has not had a day like this with his son in five years,” Berman said. “How often is it quiet when the electronics are not buzzing? Once you get out there you and your group are in their own world.”
Berman hopes that his business will bring more people to Long Beach and give them a reason to stay an extra night and patronize local businesses.
“I tell people when you come out on our adventure paddles,” he said, “we are going to leave you with a smile on your face and an adventure in your heart.”